A hyperactive pup can be cute and fun with expressive barking and jumping around. However, hyperactivity can also be disruptive to your household and may become frustrating for you when your dog is (possibly literally) bouncing off the walls. Hyperactivity can affect many different types of dogs and is completely normal. While a hyper dog can mean that they are simply happy or excited, it can also be signs of boredom, behavioral issues, nutritional issues, or a lack of exercise and mental stimulation. In this article, we’ll look at a variety of ways to calm down your hyper dog.
Exercise For a Calm dog
Making sure you exercise your dog regularly can go far when it comes to calming a naturally hyper dog. If a regular walk isn’t enough exercise, maybe you and your dog can take up running. If you aren’t a runner, consider riding your bike with your dog. This is less physically demanding on you and your pup will be able to exercise out some of their excess energy. If you live close to a dog-friendly body of water, taking your pup on a weekly swim can be a great way to give them exercise. But what if regular exercise isn’t enough?
Consider doing an agility run to help calm your dog. There may be a doggie gym in your area with agility runs and classes. Or you could build your very own agility run for your dog in your backyard. There are many kits available online and here is a guide from This Old House if you want to build one from scratch.
Play and Mental Stimulation
Playtime, especially playtime that adds mental stimulation, can help use up some of that hyperactive energy your dog has. Using puppy puzzles, treat-releasing toys or outdoor activities like playing fetch with a tennis ball are great ways to use some of your dog’s physical and mental energy.
There are a variety of dog puzzles out there, such as the Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Brick Puzzle game. The Brick puzzle game rewards your pet with treats hidden in progressively more difficult-to-open compartments and is designed for you and your pup to play with together. Or, consider the “Sniff Diggy” Fun Mental Stimulation Nose Work mat, which is a pile of felt strips that hide treats from your pup, so they have to use their nose to find the treat. There’s also the classic Kong toy, which, when filled with peanut butter, or other tasty treats, can occupy your pet for some time.
Speaking of classics, taking your pup to the park, and throwing a tennis ball is a great way to burn off some steam. If you can’t throw the ball far enough, there’s help to be had with the ChuckIt tennis ball launcher, so you can easily hurl a tennis ball across the whole park for your pup to chase after.
Playtime isn’t limited to the great outdoors. You and your pup, or pups, can play hide and seek. Tell your dog to sit, and go hide somewhere, such as on the couch or in the bathtub, then call your dog, so they can come to find you. Reward your little bloodhound with treats and affection. This is a great way to get some activity in when the weather doesn’t permit outside playtime.
Give Your Dog a Job
Some breeds of dogs need to work. It’s in their blood and their DNA because they were bred to help humans do specific tasks. While we are most likely more familiar with German Shepherd dogs working with the police, or Labradors and Golden Retrievers working as service animals for the differently-abled, they aren’t the only dogs bred to work. Many smaller dog breeds were bred for work, such as Beagles and Dachshunds. Beagles were bred as scent hounds to hunt small game, like rabbits, and are still used for hunting to this day. Dachshunds were bred to hunt badgers, by going down headfirst into a badger’s burrow, which explains why many Dachshunds are a little bit on the crazy side.
But even if your hyper dog wasn’t specifically bred for work, they can still benefit from being given jobs beyond the tricks and skills training you’ve likely been doing with them. Giving your dog a job has many benefits which include boosting their confidence, creating a stronger bond between you and your dog, using up pent-up energy, reducing their boredom levels, and most importantly, leaving your dog tired. Here are a few examples of jobs for dogs.
- Buy your dog a backpack for him to carry. You can put up to 10% of your dog’s weight worth of items in their backpack. Wearing a backpack on walks puts your dog into work mode, and may help them walk at your heel, or at least pull less on the leash since they are focused on the backpack. Try adding dog toys, first aid supplies, rolls of poop bags, a bottle of water, and a portable doggie bowl to your dog’s backpack, or you could simply add a can of beans or two to weigh it down.
- Take your dog “hunting”. If you aren’t an avid hunter, your dog still may enjoy time out in nature, going on a hike with you, and activities that mimic hunting. Throw sticks into a pond or lake for your dog to fetch and let your dog flush out birds in bushes. No actual animals will be harmed, and your dog will have a great time.
- Does your dog love attention from strangers? Is he or she a friendly, well-behaved pup, minus the hyperactivity? Do you like to help out in your community? Consider becoming a therapy team, and visiting patients in the hospitals, kids in schools, and people living in nursing homes. Your dog will get a lot of attention and affection and will be doing an important job by providing company, and perhaps education. Many people need some animal love in their lives, and this would be an important job for your dog to do. Therapy dogs need to be at least one year old and able to stay calm in distracting environments, which may rule out your hyperactive dog for now. But, with some training and other remedies for hyperactivity, this could be a great option for you and your sweet dog. For more information check out the Therapy Dogs website.
Nutritious Diet and Nutritional Supplements
Feeding your dog high-quality food with plenty of vitamins and minerals can help calm your hyperactive dog. Nutrition is important for the healthy function of the nervous system. Consider a salmon or fish-based food for the Omega-3 fatty acids. You could also add nutritional supplements to your pet’s diet like fish or flaxseed oil, which are high in these essential fatty acids. And, as a bonus, they’ll likely make your dog’s coat nice and shiny! Another helpful nutritional supplement for hyperactivity is magnesium, which helps to relax the nervous system, and is also good for muscles and bones. Be sure to either choose high quality products designed for pets or check the ingredient labels for any additives that might be harmful to your pup. Just because a product is safe for humans, doesn’t mean it’s safe for dogs.
When used properly, essential oils can help calm a hyper dog. Just because essential oils are natural, doesn’t mean that they are 100% safe. While they are safe for dogs when administered properly, it’s important to dilute any essential oil with a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil before applying to the skin. (1-3 drops per tablespoon of oil is a good place to start.) It’s also important to keep essential oil bottles out of your pet’s reach.
For easy application, you can make a spray by mixing a few drops of essential oils into a spray bottle of water and spritz around the room or on your dog’s bed. You can also diffuse essential oils with a diffuser unless you have cats in the home since cats can’t tolerate essential oils. Some people also put a drop onto their dog’s collar but be sure that it’s just a drop, and that you’re ok with some potential discoloration on the collar. Some good, calming essential oils are lavender, lemon, cedarwood, chamomile, and orange.
Doggy training classes are not only a great way to train your dog, but to exhaust them as well. Obedience classes train your dog to pay attention to you and your commands in a distracting environment. They’re also a great way to appropriately socialize your dog around other dogs and people. Once your dog is trained, then you’ll be able to re-focus them when they are hyper by using the commands you both learned. Going through your training routine with your dog can help them focus and expend some of their seemingly boundless energy.
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